Will County to cut health services due to state budget impasse

JOLIET, Ill. (WLS) -- Some Will County health programs could see deep cuts later this month due to the state budget impasse by lawmakers in Springfield.

On Monday, local authorities and healthcare professionals called on the county and state to step forward and help save those programs.

The Will County Health Department is the lead provider of mental health services in the county. The agency provides psychiatric services to about 1,500 adults. However, as of next month, those services may be gone because the state owes the county over$2 million in unpaid bills.

"I receive intensive psychotherapy, sometimes referred to as talk therapy, counseling. I also receive medication management," said Robert Talkie, a mental health services recipient.

To cover the budgetary shortfall, the board has announced it will cut 53 full-time jobs, effective May 27. In addition to mental health, HIV prevention as well as several family services benefiting both mothers and young children would also be cut, and possibly eliminated.

"These programs are designed to make our communities healthier and safer, so with these cuts it won't just affect the clients, but the community as well," said Sandra Wetstein, of Agape Missions.

Calling on the state government to pay its bills and on the board to find the money needed to avoid a crisis, elected officials joined union and community leaders at a press conference on Monday. Among them was Will County State's Attorney Jim Glasgow.

"The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a time of moral crisis maintain their neutrality. That's where we are in Illinois, right today, now," Glasgow said.

The Will County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to meet Thursday to discuss ways in which they can avoid some, if not all of the cuts.
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